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Page last updated at 08:06 GMT, Thursday, 29 March 2012 09:06 UK

Drop 'arbitrary' aid target

The government should drop its commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on aid according to a report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.

Lord MacGregor, chairman of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, told the Today programme's Sarah Montague that this was "a unanimous report" and based on evidence received from 30 witnesses who specialise in aid.

He pointed out that this was not referring to humanitarian aid in the form of disaster relief, which accounts for 10% of overall aid.

Lord McGregor said that the committee supported the International Development Secretary in "dealing with corruption" and focusing much more on private sector.

But in terms of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on aid, he said "it is putting the cart before the horse" adding that it amounts to spending the money irrespective if it is used wisely.

He went on to say that no other government department works in this way.

Lord Ashdown, president of Unicef UK, said that while this was a very good report, it is "bewildering when it comes to this proposition" of abandoning its commitment to spending this percentage of gross national income.

He insisted it was not "arbitrarily set"as was suggested in the reports and that "just because it is large does not mean it is not efficient".

"We made a promise to the world's poorest and their children," he said adding that, "this is an international agreement that we are seeking to achieve".

But Lord McGregor said there have been occasions when this money has been "misspent, misdirected and not properly used".

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